Thursday Morning News
It’s hard to get a feel for how cool Apple’s new Steve Jobs Theater is without being there. The next best thing is a wonderful photo essay put together by Dan Frommer of Recode, about what it was like to attend the first event there. The glass of the above-ground part of the theatre is tall and imposing, and you can tell that everything has Apple’s signature attention to detail. I wish I could have been there.
Ars Technica’s hands-on with the iPhone X tells us about the things that have changed the most from previous iPhones. The OLED display is a first for the iPhone lineup, and it’s pretty stunning in person, although you’ll have to look at one before you can truly see the effects of a HDR-capable screen. Face recognition is cool, and leads to some neat user interactions such as lowering ringtone volume when the phone recognises that you’re looking at your phone, but how it works in every day use will remain to be seen.
But the thing about Face ID is that as much as Apple wants it to replace Touch ID, I think a lot of us are worried it’s going to suck. Forget all the marketing and tech packed into the top edge of the iPhone display, aiming a phone so it can recognise your face is an issue of awkward ergonomics compared to fingerprint scanners. You can have a device unlocked and ready to use before you’re looking at the display with Touch ID, but that’s not possible with Face ID, and that extra second or two might make all the difference.
Not only that, the iPhone X represents a unique marketing problem for Apple. The release of the iPhone X was always going to out-shine the release of the other iPhones Apple announced, and with or without the name that has skipped the S generation, Apple’s marketing for the cameras in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X has some serious explaining to do. Not only are both the front and rear-facing cameras better than the cameras in the regular iPhone 8, they’re also better than the ones in the 8 Plus.
Little details from yesterday’s announcements include the fact that Face ID can only be setup for one face at the moment. The Apple Watch Series 3 gets bumped from 8GB to 16GB of internal storage, provided you’re buying the cellular model. Disney are the only content providers not offering 4K content via the iTunes Store, and the Apple TV gets its Gigabit ethernet port back.
For whatever reason, Apple also made a revamped Siri remote available for the Apple TV. There’s no new changes other than a slightly more prominent Menu button, surrounded by a painted white circle. Apart from that, it’s identical to the previous version, and doesn’t solve any outstanding usability issues.
The update to iTunes released yesterday removes the iOS App Store. Yes, it’s true — iTunes 12.7 no longer allows you to access the iOS App Store from your Mac, and you also can’t sync apps to iOS devices from your Mac. You can still sync other types of content to your iPhone or iPad, but overall, this feels like the change no-one was asking for. Yes, iTunes probably does too much. But removing the ability for users to backup iOS apps to their Mac, and buy apps from their computers, doesn’t feel like the right move.
The bad news continues with a price hike to iPad Pro pricing. The Verge explains high prices of iPad Pros as undersupply of NAND memory, with Australians getting slogged an extra $70 for capacities higher than the base 64GB. There’s never any good news when it comes to price hikes, but at least other regions are in the same boat as us.
AppleCare+ for the iPhone X is more expensive than it was for previous iPhones. While the price for AppleCare+ hasn’t changed from the 7 to the 8 or 8 Plus, AppleCare+ for the iPhone X will set you back $299 in Australia. That seems like a lot, but then again, you’re paying at least $1579 for the iPhone X anyway.
Finally, a bunch of new Apple accessories showed up yesterday. Although the leather folio case for the iPhone X has the same screen wake technology as iPads, I guess it wouldn’t be an Apple event without some new Apple Watch bands.